There’s a memorable moment in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets where the Hogwarts Express crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Inverness-shire, Scotland. In those brief seconds of screen time, millions of fans worldwide fell in love with British train travel. If you wish to experience the world-famous wizard further, take a look at our Harry Potter Studio Tour.
The grandeur of the sweeping countryside, the elegant puff and whilst of the engine – all conspire to paint a romantic portrait of the UK’s railways that left us wanting to experience it for ourselves. Fortunately for us, the truth is not so far from its theatrical presentation. Britain’s railway tours truly are that beautiful.
This week, we’re exploring nine of the most spectacular lines the UK has to offer. It’s time to climb aboard, lie back and let the peaceful chug of the railway lull you into a day of quiet contemplation.
The West Highland Line
Featuring the very same Glenfinnan Viaduct that brought us here in the first place, the West Highland Line is one of the most epic train journeys in all of Europe. See a side of Scotland that you can only experience by train.
The English Riviera Line
Rolling slowly alongside the River Exe to the Exmouth estuary, this gorgeous route keeps you right up against the water’s edge for most of the journey. Each of the main stops along the line – Exeter, Dawlish, Teignmouth and Paignton are worth a visit in its own right.
The Talyllyn Railway
This little-known steam railway line tugs its little way through some of Wales’s most beautiful and unexplored countryside. It was the inspiration for Rev. W Awdry’s The Railway Series – the books upon which the Thomas the Tank Engine stories were based.
The Cumbrian CoastLine
Running from Carlisle to Barrow-in-Furness, this is the line for lovers of rugged, windswept and romantic scenery. Skirting the edge of the Lake District, it’s a wonderful way to start (or finish!) a weekend of hiking in the beautiful English countryside.
The Conwy Valley Line
Finishing in spectacular Conwy – famous for its imposing medieval castle – the Conwy Valley Line is a fairytale journey filled with sights from a forgotten age. You’ll feel just like you’ve stepped into the pages of a Neil Gaiman novel.
The Tarka Line
Named after the influential novel, Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson, this gorgeous, quiet line takes you on a scenic journey through the river valleys of Teo and Taw. It has the added benefit of finishing in Exeter, meaning you can jump straight onto the Riviera Line for a completely different experience.
The Swanage Railway
This steam-driven spectacular is as much a heritage tour as anything else. Get one of the best possible views of the famous Corfe Castle and traverse the stunning Purbeck hills before landing in the historic coastal town of Swanage.
The Orient Express Line
Although you may not be able to take the famous London to Venice route, you can still board this world-famous train for day trips in the UK. Go from London to beautiful Bath, or even further for a once-in-a-lifetime railway experience.
And for a better railway experience in the UK, take a look at our rail tours departing from London, you can visit places like Edinburgh, the Highlands, or even Lake District!